The core purpose of hiring a surveyor or engineer to conduct a survey and the one which most people are aware of is to give you an independent opinion on the overall condition of the property and its suitability for purchase.
This gives you a better picture of what you are buying so you can make an informed decision on proceeding with the purchase or not.
But, there are several other benefits to getting a survey complete which may not be so obvious.
Does any element of the property require Planning Permission or a Certificate of Exemption/Compliance?
As part of the survey, your surveyor will note if the property has been extended, converted, or structurally renovated in any way. Sometimes this is obvious from the appearance of the work, other times, it is identified from variances with other properties in the estate.
When there have been changes made to the property, the surveyor will give their opinion on whether or not that change needs planning/retention permission, a certificate of compliance, or a certificate of exemption.
Your solicitor will then know what documents you should be requested from the vendor's solicitor.
If the vendor's solicitor is good, they'll have these documents ready to go!
Does that new front porch need planning permission?
Does the rear extension need a certificate of exemption, or is it big enough that it needs planning permission?
Has the garage been converted into a room and bathroom and does it need an exemption?
Is the property compliant with Building Regulations?
If there is a part of the property that does not meet building regulations, the surveyor will comment on it. Sometimes these can be minor like an attic conversion which is not suitable to be used as a room but fine for storage space. Other times it could be cautionary advice, like adding additional structural supports like collar ties to the internal roof structure.
Sometimes it can be more serious. For example an unsafe/unsuitable staircase, or a 2nd floor without the correct fire doors/means of escape.
Another example is the number of bedrooms. Occasionally a property will be listed as a 3 or 4-bedroom house, but upon inspection one of those rooms does not meet the requirement as a habitable room and so should not be listed as a bedroom. In this case, it has a material impact on the type of property you are buying and could even impact the bank's decision on lending towards it.
There are 100s of building regulations that the surveyor is aware of and will be checking for. Most people may not even know these exist or may not know their importance.
Are the services located within the property boundaries?
Services like electricity meters, gas meters, oil tanks and septic tanks should be located within the boundaries of the property. If for example, the surveyor is unable to locate a septic tank it is possible it is located on a neighboring property. If this is the case, your solicitor will need to do some "digging" (not literally) to sort out the legal implications.
This can be more of an issue in rural properties than urban ones but is important to ensure everything is in order.
If the solicitor is unable to locate any services or indeed if they find their location, but it is not within the boundaries, this will be noted so that it can be investigated before contracts are signed.
If your solicitor provides the folio map before the survey takes place, the surveyor will review it while at the property and ensure that the physical boundary matches what is outlined on the map.
This is a visual inspection only and no GPS mapping equipment is used which means there is a margin of error, however, it is usually enough to spot most potential issues with the boundary location.
Issues with boundary location are more common with rural properties where the boundary is not a physical structure like a wall but they can also occasionally appear in urban properties too.
If the issues are related to something like the "right of access" (this is where the entrance to your property is through a piece of land owned by someone else), this could have serious legal implications if not identified so your solicitor can clear them up before the contracts are signed.
In addition to this, the surveyor will also comment on the condition of boundary structures like fences, walls, gates etc.
Would you know what an asbestos corrugated roof to look at? Or what types of mold should be tested for dangerous strains? Surveyors do!
Although these issues may not be enough to cause you to pull out of a sale, they are issues that you should be aware of if you purchase the property.
Peace of Mind!
It's a little cheesy when we use this as a tagline, but it's important! A house or apartment is the largest single purchase most of us will ever make. Because of this, you want to make sure you are doing every piece of due diligence you possibly can before committing to purchase.
Hiring a surveyor dramatically decreases your chances of getting unwelcome surprises after you move in. When you couple this together with a great solicitor to ensure you are advised on and protected from any legal issues, you can move forward with the confidence you need and start turning your new house into your home.
Have Questions or Ready to Book?
If you have any questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com. We get back to emails 7 days per week, 16 hours per day (I need at least 8 hours of sleep or I get grumpy) so we never leave you waiting for an answer.
If you are sale agreed and want to book your survey with us, just go to GetHouseSurvey.ie and click on "Get Survey Now". One you book, we usually have a surveyor assigned within a couple of hours. They will then contact the estate agent or vendor to arrange a time and date. We keep you updated at every single step of the process so you always know the status of your survey and don't need to go chasing for updates!